Wednesday, January 25, 2012
At Last a Glimmer of Common Sense!
Candidates Declare Super PAC Free Zone
January 24, 2012 by Michael Winship
As mentioned here a few days ago, campaign representatives for rival U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and incumbent Scott Brown in Massachusetts were planning to meet to figure out a way to ban outside group advertising in their hotly contested election. The winner of that race could determine next year’s Senate majority
On Monday afternoon, the two candidates signed an agreement. Republican Scott Brown described it as a “bold statement that puts super PAC’s and other third parties on notice that their interference in this race will not be tolerated,” and Democrat Elizabeth Warren added, “Both campaigns will need to remain vigilant to ensure that outside groups do not try to circumvent what is an historic agreement.”
According to the congressional newspaper, The Hill, “The pact signed by Warren and Brown on Monday imposes a financial penalty whenever an outside group intrudes on the race. If an outside group places a television or Internet ad supporting a candidate, the candidate would be required to donate 50 percent of the cost of the ad to a charity of the opponent’s choosing within three days. Negative attack ads would also trigger the penalty, with the candidate whose rival is attacked being forced to forfeit half the cost. Also included in the accord are written requests signed by both candidates to broadcast station managers imploring them to voluntarily enforce the pledge.”
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post quotes the Public Campaign Action Fund’s David Donnelly: “It’s good for them, it’s good for voters, and it’s a good model for every competitive race in the county.”
The problem, of course, is enforcement, with Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC already attacking the deal as loophole-ridden and other groups taking a wait-and-see attitude. With the third party ads included, some have estimated that spending in the Warren-Brown contest could reach as high as $60-100 million."
The Brown/Warren contest has interesting origins fully in line with the bizarre brand of politics for which Massachusetts has become (in)famous. When Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat needed to be filled in 2010, Republican Brown ran against the state's tough and highly competent Attorney General, Democrat Martha Coakley. It didn't take long for Brown's centerfold, that had appeared in the June 1982 Cosmopolitan, to surface.
No particular damage was done to Brown's campaign as most people didn't hold a 22 year old's actions against him, to say nothing of the fact that a lot of women and men had no objection to the image itself (although I've always wondered, the state of societal prejudice being what it is, what the reaction would have been to a female candidate having appeared naked in a centerfold). But a lot of damage was done to Martha Coakley by herself; she ran a less than dynamic campaign, the general feeling being that she felt the Senate seat was a sure thing, hers by divine right as a Massachusetts Democrat.
So, Scott Brown took Teddy's seat and has surprised me on a number of occasions by behaving as a moderate in what is otherwise the Republican loony bin. Elizabeth Warren is a well thought of, Harvard Law Professor and bankruptcy expert who's had several books published on the economy and personal finance. One PAC ad has already hit her with completely untrue allegations about support for bail-outs, etc. It will be fascinating to see if these two can manage to keep their campaigns PAC-free.
I was watching a highlights reel of Oprah TV moments. There was a section where Oprah and her 99.5% female audience were talking about women who cut off their husbands' penises. Many, including Oprah, were giggling about the empowerment, etc. I thought to myself, what would happen if a group of men, led by a male host, sat around and talked about mutilating their wives' vaginas? Acceptable, funny?